After their first production together, there would be no reason to believe that Anthony Hopkins and director Roger Donaldson would ever meet again.
"It’s no secret that Anthony and I were ready to kill each other,"
says Donaldson about the filming of The Bounty, the 1984 version of the classic
"Mutiny on the Bounty" tale. However, 20 years later, the two have reunited
for The World’s Fastest Indian, a film about Burt Munro, a racer from
New Zealand who broke the land speed record in the 1960s.
Hopkins says he met up with Donaldson years later.
"We’re much more friendly," Hopkins says. "We thought everything
was so important back then. When you look back on it, nothing’s that important."
"When we saw each other again, we realized we were pretty proud of the film,"
Donaldson says. "I don’t know how it happened, but now we’re the
best of friends."
Hopkins was Donaldson’s first choice to play Munro, a wild character of an
old man. In the film, he travels by boat and car to the Bonneville Salt Flats
in Utah, with very little money and no one else but the friends he meets along
the way. Back in 1972, Donaldson made a documentary about Munro, Offerings to
the God of Speed, and has been writing the script and raising the money to make
a feature about him ever since.
"This movie has encapsulated my whole film career," Donaldson says.
Munro certainly has lived through enough to make up a feature film. In one scene
from the film, he gets pulled over on the highway for going over 100 miles an
hour on a test ride of his "Indian" racer. He was also known as a bit
of a womanizer.
"There are hundreds of stories, some pretty risqué stuff," Donaldson
remembers. "Burt was no saint."
Munro’s affable personality, though, comes through in Hopkins’ portrayal.
"The real Burt was as friendly," Donaldson says. "He had the most
amazing, outgoing personality."
Chris Lawford, who plays a racer that helps Munro get his chance, says he had
a tough side to him.
"Burt was a little more wild and abrasive. Tony’s Burt is a little nicer."
Lawford says Hopkins brought a genuine quality to the set that isn’t present
in many big stars. The son of Rat Packer Peter Lawford says that working with
the Oscar winner was the highlight of his career.
"I’ve known Tony for a while," Lawford says. "He’s as
good a human being as an actor. The thing about Tony is he brings a modesty to
his work. Often he would ask, ‘Was that good enough?’ I got the feeling
that we were all creating something together. That’s not usually how it works."
Hopkins seemed to downplay his star status off the set as well.
"I would walk into the casino and watch Anthony Hopkins pumping coins into
the slot machine," Lawford says. "There’s something funny about
It is surprising that Hopkins didn’t bring a cocky air to the set as he recalls
the legends who have helped him over the years.
"Working with Katharine Hepburn, she said, ‘Don’t act,’"
Hopkins says. He also added, "Laurence Olivier was a great mentor. He said
that it takes a long time to get comfortable."
This whole experience might not have even happened if it weren’t for ideal
weather at the Bonneville flats, where the crew filmed for two weeks.
"There was no Plan B," says Donaldson, concerning the threat of rain.
In fact, it rained the last day of shooting.
"The rain totally destroyed the set," Lawford recalls. It took the crew
days to find everything that had been scattered over many miles on the flats.
Fortunately, the shoot was a couple days ahead of schedule, and audiences will
finally get to see Donaldson’s dream of bringing Munro’s dream to the
The World’s Fastest Indian opens in limited release Feb. 3
Film: Interview [Anthony Hopkins: The World's Fastest Indian]
Speed Racer: Anthony Hopkins and Roger Donaldson Team-up for The World’s Fastest Indian
By Paul Crocetti
Article posted on 1/23/2006
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